Herb-Smoked Salmon

Mon, Jun 30 • 0

I made this one up as I went along, though, now that I think about it, Jamie Oliver probably did something similar on his new series.

I used a prepared spice rub, but you could use your favorite spice mix. I used fresh savory fronds, but fresh rosemary, fennel fronds, or tarragon would probably work well, too.

1 lb salmon fillet
1 t salmon rub
1 bunch summer savory
salt to taste

Heat up a cast iron pan, big enough to hold the filet, and that you can cover with a lid, over high heat. Spray the bottom of the pan with some canola spray. Put in the fresh herbs, and when they start to sizzle, the pan is hot enough. Put the filet on the herbs, skin side up, and cover with the lid. Cook this way for 5 minutes. Lower heat, and remove the filet. Take out the herbs, some of which are probably pretty crisp and smoky by this point. Return the fish to the hot pan, skin side down, and cook to the desired doneness — until the fish just starts flaking.

Pecan Crusted Turkey Cutlets

Thu, Jun 26 • 0

A low-fat, inexpensive alternative to breaded chicken cutlets.

I was originally going to make this with chicken breast cutlets, but the turkey cutlets were half the price in my grocery store, so I went with them instead. The recipe is relatively low fat. If you’d rather not waste the egg yolks and don’t mind the extra cholesterol, substitute the 3 egg whites for another whole egg, but the extra egg whites seem to make the coating stick better after cooking.

¾ c pecans
1 egg
3 egg whites
¼ c flour
4 turkey cutlets
salt and pepper to taste

Take ½ c of the pecans and pulse in a food processor to make a coarse chop. Set aside on a plate. Take the rest of the pecans, plus the flour, salt and pepper, and process until a fine powder, and set aside on another plate. Put the eggs in a bowl and mix.

First, dredge each cutlet in the fine pecan and flour mixture. Then, dip into the eggs. Then dip into the coarse pecans. Let the cutlets set a bit.

In a frying pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, and then slip the coated cutlets in, and fry until golden brown, about 3 or 4 minutes a side. Remove to a paper towel to wick off excess oil.

Pulled Pork Butt

Sat, May 24 • 0

This recipe will make your house smell wonderful, and you’ll be salivating for the hours it takes to cook.

Preheat oven to 325. Mix in a food processor :

6 cloves of garlic
2 california dried chilis, bloomed over an open flame, the stem and seeds removed
2 chunks of peeled fresh ginger
1 T smoked paprika
1 T mixed dried green herbs (thyme, sage, rosemary)
2 t salt
1 t pepper

Score the fat on a boston butt roast, and rub the above mixture all over the roast, especially into the fat.

Slice a white onion, thick, and layer the bottom of a cooking vessel with high sides. Put the roast on top, along with any left over rub. In a small bowl, mix equal amounts of ketchup and yellow mustard, along with half that quantity of molasses. Pour the wet mixture over the pork roast. Cover tightly with a lid, or with a layer of parchment under a layer of foil (tomato and aluminum foil don’t mix). Put it in the oven, and cook for 4 to 8 hours, or until the meat is literally falling off the bone. Once you get close, remove the cover 30 minutes before the end, and let the crust brown.

Remove the roast to rest. Shred with a pair of forks, and serve in the cooking liquid with the onions, and perhaps some good cole slaw, on hamburger buns/kaiser rolls.

Easy Chicken Stew

Wed, May 21 • 0

Saw this recipe for a chicken stew with wine demonstrated on a cooking show last weekend, and thought I’d give it a go.

The results were ok, but I think it could use some tinkering, as the broth was a little too astringent for my taste. The recipe called for oyster mushrooms, but one of us is allergic, so I replaced them with carrots. The recipe also called for serving it over buttered noodles, but I chose to add an Israeli couscous and grains mix that Trader Joes sells. The leftovers taste even better the second day.

4 oz bacon, diced
2 leeks, cleaned and chopped
8-12 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
3 bay leaves
1t fresh thyme
2 carrots, sliced
1 bottle riesling wine
salt and pepper to taste

Brown the bacon in a dutch oven. Add the leeks and soften. Add the chicken thighs — no need to brown the thighs. Add the rest of the ingredients, except for the couscous, and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 45 minutes. Add the couscous and cook for another 15 to 20 minutes.

Experiment : Boursin Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Wed, May 14 • 0

Made this recipe up in the grocery store, though ultimately, it was a waste of some expensive cheese spread.

Marinate 3 chicken breasts using the salt/buttermilk & onion method described in the recent southern fried chicken recipe, below. Pat dry, and pound ¼” thickness, trimming excess to form uniform rectangles. In a food processor, mix chicken trimmings, ¼ c sour cream, 2 or 3 T boursin cheese, fresh parsley and fresh baby spinach leaves, plus salt and pepper to taste. Mix with 1c freshly made rice. (I used a brown and red rice mixture.) Spread a thin layer of the rice and cheese mixture on each chicken breast, and roll, tying with string. Dredge in flour and fry in a little bit of butter and olive oil until golden, and then finish off in a 325 oven for 15 or 20 minutes or until cooked through.

Results: Though it tasted just great, I didn’t notice that the marinade made much of a difference, so I’ll probably skip that step. Also, the stuffing was good, it didn’t particularly taste of boursin cheese, so I might just leave that part out next time, too. Either that, or cut back on the spinach/parsley. Alternately, I could replace the subtle boursin with just a few cloves of garlic, chopped in the food processor.

Again with the Southern Fried Chicken

Thu, May 8 • 0

After several attempts and false steps, I’ve finally come up with my go-to fried chicken recipe. This is the best I’ve ever made and the best I’ve ever eaten.

Tried a new technique for fried chicken for dinner tonight, with somewhat mixed results. The recipe came from the Gourmet Cookbook. It added a few details and steps from my normal recipe, which did a good job boosting the flavor, but I thought the directions on frying the chicken pieces were a little unclear, so the crust didn’t turn out as good as I’d hoped.

The first unexpected step has you coat all the cut-up pieces with kosher salt, and have it set in the refrigerator for an hour. The cookbook suggests that this is a sort of quick brining step, which adds flavor but also extracts liquid from the meat, which will let it soak up more of the marinating liquid. And there was a lot of liquid in the plate after an hour … though I have to wonder if I just replaced it when I rinsed the salt off before the soak in the buttermilk.

And the buttermilk soak deviated from my normal recipe, too. I usually put some Louisiana hot sauce in the buttermilk to add flavor. This recipe called for two chopped onions.

In the end, the chicken had great flavor, so I have to think that these steps were worth it. The recipe has you fry the chicken in 3 batches, cooking it in 2 cups of vegetable shorting and 1 stick of butter, heated to hot, but not smoking — I would have preferred a little more specificity in the temperature recommendation. You put the chicken in the oil, cover the pan, and then turn the heat down to low — again, this is pretty vague. You cook the first side for 10 minutes, turn the chicken, and cook the white meat for 10 more minutes, and the dark meat for 12.

Unfortunately, the crust came off in sheets on me. (It might have been because I used bread flour instead of all-purpose flour for the coating).

Still, all things considered, the flavor was good enough to merit more attempts.

May 10 Update : So I tried it again. Luckily, my wife and I have a pretty much unlimited hunger for fried chicken, so repeating this recipe until I clinch it isn’t a chore. This time, I followed the recipe pretty much to the letter. Using regular AP flour, plus letting the floured chicken pieces sit for a full 30 minutes might have helped, too. The crust came out fine. I still need to work on figuring out the heat management with cooking. The first pieces I cooked came out a little pale colored, while the last pieces were quite dark, making me wonder if the butter in the oil needs to cook for a longer amount of time before I start.

So here’s the recipe, if you’re wondering …
Keep reading…

Corn on the Cob

Sun, May 4 • 1

As far as I’m concerned, there are only two ways to make corn on the cob … the good way, and the better way.

The good way has you boiling a pot of water with a handful of salt and a handful of sugar, and once the water is at a full boil, you put in the shucked corn, let it boil for 5 minutes, and then turn off the heat, and let it steep for another 7 to 10.

The better way to do it has you put the corn, husk and all, on the grill, turning every few minutes, for 15 minutes. This will give you a delicious smoky flavor, and the corn silk will come right off. (Some people dunk the ears of corn in water first to prevent burning. I actually like the husks to char a bit, for the flavor.)

In either case, slather it with butter and kosher salt.

I’ve read suggestions that you can cook corn in the microwave, wrapping the corn in plastic wrap, and steaming it in the husk. I’ve tried it with very mixed results, so I generally stick to the two methods above.

Beer Batter

Wed, Apr 30 • 0

For shrimp, chicken, fish, even onion rings. For an extra kick, nix the flavorful spices, and mix the eggs with some chipotle peppers in a blender.

2 eggs, beaten
2c flour
2T corn starch
2t baking soda
2t salt
1T flavorful spices — Old Bay, garlic powder … up to you.
2c beer

Mix the dry ingredients together, then add the eggs and the beer, pouring the beer against the side of the bowl. Mix thoroughly, and let rest for 30 minutes. Then dip the fish strips (or whatever) in to coat thoroughly. Fry for 2 minutes on each side in hot (350°) oil.

What’s for dinner? Roast Duckling

Tue, Dec 25 • 0

Christmas Duck Harris Teeter had fresh duckling on sale the other day, and I just couldn’t resist.

I used Ina Garten’s technique of lightly scoring the duckling’s skin with a fork, and cooking it in hot chicken stock for 45 minutes, which gets rid of a lot of the fat, letting it dry off for 30 minutes, and then roasting it in a really hot, hot oven (500°) for 30 minutes, followed by a rest for another 30 minutes. Before roasting, I tossed a little salt and pepper on the outside, as well as a little chinese five spice, but if I’d had my act together, I would have made it the way my mom used to … by basting it with some honey and curry towards the end of the roast.

While the duck was resting, I used some of the oil in the pan to fry up some onions and parboiled potatoes. The skin turned out pretty crisp, and not at all flabby. Still, needs more work. Unfortunately, my wife refuses to touch duck, so while I ate duck, she had steak. (Also, I meant to snap a picture before I started carving. Sorry about that!)

Grilled Beer Brats

Sun, Dec 23 • 0

Here’s a recipe my brother makes for cookouts. It’s pretty simple, but surprisingly flavorful and a nice change from hamburgers and hot dogs. These go better with a crustier roll than a regular hot dog bun, but those would do in a pinch.

2-3 lbs. bratwurst
2 large onions sliced
1 big bottle of cheap beer
2 bay leaves (optional)

Pierce the wursts with several times with a fork and marinate the wurst in the beer and onions for a couple hours or overnight. Then grill them until done. You can also save the onions from the marinade and fry them up in a pan while you’re cooking the wursts and then serve them on top.

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